De Gea hands Man United reality check as early-season optimism dies

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Manchester United contrived to dominate Crystal Palace and still hand them a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has work to do.

After Manchester United put four past Chelsea in their opening Premier League game of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not fixating on the three points.

"We have to look behind the results. I would have said the same if we'd had a different result," he insisted. "We know it's just the start and there are relationships to be worked on. The more we understand each other and get to play with each other and show that we're a team, it's going to improve."

The United manager will doubtless look beyond the result on Saturday, when Crystal Palace produced a true smash-and-grab at Old Trafford to win there for the first time in the Premier League era.

Solskjaer could argue the Red Devils were dominant, committed to attacking football, unlucky at crucial moments. They were.

But that 4-0 win over Chelsea is United's only league victory at home since April 13. In that sense, Palace's victory is no aberration; it's a pattern to home games that Solskjaer seems unable to address.

The statistics tell you this was a match United should never have lost. They had 22 shots to Palace's five, 71 per cent of the possession, and a second missed penalty in as many games.

The visitors scored with two of their three efforts on target, the first a simple finish for Andrew Ayew, the injury-time winner yet another moment to forget for David de Gea in 2019 as Patrick van Aanholt's strike found its way through the Spain goalkeeper.

United can also point to some bad luck, and two questionable decisions from referee Paul Tierney.

Debutant Gary Cahill was fortunate not to be sent off for stopping Anthony Martial's clear route to goal, and Martin Kelly's manhandling of the forward as he drove into the penalty area in the second half went strangely unpunished.

They will also likely highlight how Palace contrived to score with their first shot at the end of their first foray into the United box, all from goalkeeper Vicente Guaita's clearance. But that was a goal of United's own making.

Victor Lindelof will probably bear most of the criticism for failing to win the header against Jeffrey Schlupp that sent Ayew through, but there should be a serious inquest into how the goalscorer was able to wander past Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay in midfield and not be tracked by £80million ($145M AUD) man Harry Maguire.

Then there was the penalty, Luka Milivojevic rightly punished for tripping McTominay only for the frustrating Marcus Rashford's effort to clatter the inside of the left-hand post, cross the six-yard box and go out for a goal kick. At least there had been no argument about the taker this time.

Even after Daniel James scored a fine equaliser, United still found a way to ruin their day in the Salford sun. With too many tired players committed forward, Wilfried Zaha broke through, the ball fell to Van Aanholt, and De Gea was beaten at the near post after an hour of having nothing to do.

Source Omnisport